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Boston Restaurant Blog >> 2009 archives >> February, 2009 >> blog entry

Boston Restaurant Blog -- February, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Trip to Fairfield and Westchester Counties

I recently went on a trip to Fairfield County in Southwest Connecticut (including a side trip for dinner in Westchester County, NY). The trip also included stops in Southwest Rhode Island and the Northeast Corner of Connecticut. Along the way, I got to try three restaurants for the first time, as well as two places that I had been to before.

We started out with a stop for lunch at Boucher's Wood River Inn, which is in rural Wyoming, Rhode Island (heading toward the southwestern corner of the state). I will be writing more about this spot as it will be a featured restaurant within the site, but I'll just quickly mention here that the Wood River Inn is a real hidden gem, and one of the few dining spots near Route 95 between the Providence area and the Connecticut border (where Westerly lies). It is a rustic old spot that feels more like a restaurant in, well, Wyoming than in Rhode Island (sorry about the play on words here!). I ordered the bistro burger, which was a double burger with a tower of onion rings on top and a huge portion of fries on the side. The burger was excellent and the fries were good as well. The rings were a bit greasy, but by then I was rather full anyway, so it was no big deal leaving some of them. More on this restaurant to come, so stay tuned...

photo of Mulino's, White Plains, New York We soon got back on the highway, arriving in the charming town of Fairfield in the middle of the afternoon. Fairfield was our base for the three-day trip, but we didn't stay long, as we had a dinner reservation at a place called Mulino's, a high-end restaurant in White Plains, NY (just over the Connecticut border). Located below street level in a quiet part of the city center, Mulino's is a beautifully elegant restaurant with white tablecloths, impressive paintings and old-fashioned sconces on the walls, a piano off to the side, and a waterfall that can be seen through the side window. As soon as we sat down, the waiters started bringing over bits of food such as pepperoni, aged parmesan cheese, and all kinds of bread. We started with an excellent Caesar salad (one of the best I've had in awhile) and glasses of wine, then moved onto our main courses, including a truly amazing risotto with porcini mushrooms in white truffle butter and a memorable veal scallopini that also came with porcini mushrooms and white truffle butter. For dessert, we had an interesting dessert that I wasn't sure about initially, but the dish they called the renaissance (almond meringue, chocolate and mocha butter creams, sliced almonds, and whipped cream) was quite good, though we struggled to finish it since we were so full. All in all, this was one of the best restaurants I have been to in the past year, and definitely worth checking out if you happen to find yourself in Westchester County.

photo of the Sugar Bowl, Darien, Connecticut On Saturday morning we had a quick continental breakfast at the hotel we were staying at, then made the rounds through Fairfield County, passing through such charming towns as Weston, Ridgefield, and New Canaan. Around lunchtime, we stopped in the little town of Darien to have lunch at a place called the Sugar Bowl. From the outside, the Sugar Bowl looks like it might be a rather faceless, generic coffee shop, but it is actually a completely unpretentious greasy spoon joint with a grill in the back, counter seating along the side, lots of colorful plastic chairs throughout, and lots and lots of families with kids (at least when we were there). As far as old-fashioned luncheonettes go, the Sugar Bowl seems to be a good one, as everything we had there was well above average. My hot corned beef sandwich with Swiss cheese on rye wasn't quite New York-caliber, but it was very, very good, while the egg salad sandwich was a good-sized portion and absolutely delicious. The curly fries were also decent, though it tasted like the grease used to cook them may have been a tad old. Prices were dirt cheap and service was excellent, making the Sugar Bowl quite a satisfying place for lunch.

After lunch we took a drive around Southport (gawking at the Victorian houses and the ocean views), then drove along the water in Fairfield before stopping at an erstwhile coffee house in the center of town called the Las Vetas Lounge. Then it was off to dinner at a restaurant that I have been to before, and which I absolutely love, called the Silvemine Tavern. This restaurant is located in an historic old building in a deeply wooded part of Norwalk that is classic Currier and Ives country. This time, we went at night so we couldn't see the waterfall or the bubbling brook that cuts through the property, but it had a particularly special charm after dark, with an absolute stillness in the air and warm lights coming from the creaky old building. We had a couple of prix fixe meals, with the highlights being the crab-stuffed fillet of sole with tomato spinach risotto in a lobster reduction sauce, the lobster risotto with a parmesan crisp, and the filet mignon with roquefort bordelaise sauce. After all that food, the hot fudge sundae was icing on the cake, so to speak, though again, we were pretty full by this point. It was another great meal at a truly underrated restaurant in a very nice part of the state.

Sunday morning soon came around, and after another quick breakfast at the hotel (and coffee at Las Vetas in Fairfield Center), we hit the road to head back to Boston. We ended up making a brief stop at one of my personal favorites in New England, namely the Vanilla Bean Cafe, a quirky little spot in the Northeast Corner of Connecticut. We grabbed a chili, Italian wedding soup, and a couple of sandwiches, with the chili and soup being the highlights of the meal. I also picked up several pieces of their excellent pies to take home with me. I do hope to get back to the Vanilla Bean in the coming months for dinner, as they have all kinds of great entertainment at night (including jazz, folk, and blues acts).

Fairfield and Westchester Counties were mostly very nice places that I hope to visit again sometime in the future. And because both are on the way to New York City, perhaps it won't be too long before I'm able to stop at another restaurant or two in the area. Perhaps May or June? We'll see...

Related Blog Entries: Connecticut restaurants, New York restaurants

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